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Professional Awards Nominations as a Practice of Gratitude

August 30, 2019 Christine Hernandez Whittier College

Professional awards are more than an opportunity to recognize excellence in our field. Award nominations can be a powerful act of showing gratitude for the colleagues who influence our work and the programs we invest our so much of our energy. By writing a nomination, we give ourselves time to pause and show appreciation.  Not only can we help shine a light on the people and programs in our lives, but we, too, benefit from taking the time to practice gratitude.

As the SLPKC Awards co-chair and a past awards chair of other organizations, I have learned so much about how we express our appreciation of our colleagues and the level of pride we show in the work that we do.  I look forward to reading the nominations that my colleagues submit. Of course, there are many ways to show gratitude in the work place and often some strategies are more helpful for some people than others. However, if you’d like to try this way of practicing gratitude this year, I have some tips:

Strong award nominations are not written in a day and can feel overwhelming to begin.
The beginning of a new academic year can be stressful. As you manage multiple and often competing priorities, it is difficult to find time for yourself and even harder to find the energy to take on an additional task.  Adding on one more thing to your to-do list can feel impossible.  Rather than envisioning a perfect, completed nominations, start by picking just one award to submit a nomination. Then, create a list of the 3-5 reasons why the person or program came to mind. Come back to that list in another couple of days and begin adding in your notes for the reasons why you want to nominate that person or program. If you’re having a hard time remembering everything, sometimes it helps to look at person’s CV or LinkedIn profile or a program’s social media pages.

It’s okay to self-nominate.
Whether you want to submit for a program you manage or nominate yourself for an individual award, consider each option a real possibility. Show gratitude for yourself for the work you’ve done. Submitting a self-nomination may feel taboo but I would advocate for the people who are confident in the work they have done. This may also be an opportunity for you to build your self-confidence and outline the many ways that you have made an impact in the lives of others.

Be specific and concise in your nomination.
Awards committees may not know your program as well as you do. We often take for granted the things that we need to communicate to others. Make sure that you are able to highlight the person or program in a way that addresses the nomination criteria. If you write that your colleague is a strong leader, make sure to explain some of the ways that person demonstrates this. On the flip side, you want to keep your nomination as concise as possible.  The more you overwrite, the more you run the risk of your message getting lost.

Share what you wrote with others.
The reality of any awards process is that not every person or program will be recognized in any given year. However, your words still matter. Don’t want to share the full nomination? Take pieces of what you wrote and put in a card.

Consider submitting an award with the Student Leadership Knowledge Community. The KC offers five annual awards on behalf of the organization:

The purpose of this award is to support the creation of new knowledge focusing on the area of student leadership programs in higher education. This award is intended to support professional, doctoral, and Masters-level scholarly research.

The purpose of this award is to recognize a professional staff or faculty member's work as a member of the SLP-KC. The recipient will have made significant contributions to the knowledge community through their service and leadership.

This award recognizes programs that are transforming higher education through best practices and can be centered around student leadership topics such as research and assessment, influences on student learning, theory to practice, and more.

This award recognizes programs that set out to effectively and intentionally facilitate both civic learning and student leadership development. This award demonstrates the interconnectedness of both Knowledge Communities and promotes the application of relevant theory to practice. The increased call for student affairs programs that ground leadership development within the community context allows this award to contribute to the larger dialogue taking place nationwide. This award is supported by the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Knowledge Community and Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community. 

The deadline to submit nominations for the Dr. Susan R. Komives Research Award, Outstanding Service to Student Leadership Programs KC Award, Outstanding Contribution to Student Leadership Programs Award, and Outstanding Leadership Spotlight Program of the Year Award is Monday, September 30.